Three loud explosions rocked an affluent residential neighborhood in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday, one day after the U.S. Embassy announced it would close temporarily over concerns of rising terror threats.
As many as 28 people were killed and 100 wounded # many of them children # in the compound where the blasts were centered, diplomatic sources told journalists.
At least two dozen ambulances rushed to the Al-Muhaya compound # villas housing several hundred residents # where a large plume of smoke was seen, journalists said.
No U.S. government officials live in the compound # which lies about three miles from the U.S. Embassy in western Riyadh. The State Department does not believe any Americans were involved, sources said.
Hanadi Fundouqli, manager of the Al-Muhaya compound, said all but four of the residents are Arabs. The four are from Italy, Germany, and France, she said.
Saudi business sources told CNN the compound was about a mile from the homes of several top members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family.
The explosions happened at a time when many of the adult residents were away from their homes because of the Ramadan observances, leaving a large number of children in the compound, Fundouqli said.
Raid Qusti, Riyadh bureau chief for the Arab News daily newspaper, said he heard the blast, then ambulance and police sirens. He added that witnesses reported hearing gunfire before the explosion.
The U.S. Embassy and consulates in Saudi Arabia said Friday that they would be closed Saturday to at least Monday because of concerns that terrorists were planning an attack in the kingdom.
An advisory released Friday by the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh said the embassy “continues to receive credible information that terrorists in Saudi Arabia have moved from the planning to operational phase of planned attacks in the kingdom.”
Before the explosion Saturday, the British Embassy in Bahrain warned its personnel of the threat of a terror attack. Bahrain is an island nation in the Persian Gulf, east of Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. State Department’s closures affect the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh and consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran.
Saturday and Sunday are regular work days in Saudi Arabia.